Tourist booking trends in Canada were already dominated by online travel platforms in GlobalData’s Q32019 consumer survey, and with Canadian government’s recent announcement of a further $175m to be invested in universal broadband, this will only accelerate online consumption.

Travel and tourism companies have already faced substantial difficulties regarding colossal slumps in demand due to Covid-19. Those who do not hold a viable digital infrastructure or platform are likely to face further headwinds in servicing the future Canadian tourist.

The announcement on 9 November now envisions a total investment of $1.75bn into universal broadband across Canada, aiming to help connect 98% of Canadians to high-speed internet by 2026. Aspiring to reach 100% connectivity by 2030, this investment has been stated to provide businesses and individuals with the facilities for better participation in the digital economy.

Bookings with an OTA (36%) and direct bookings with a lodging provider or airline (32%) were the most popular platforms for Canadian tourists in 2019. The least popular form of booking provider used was in-store travel agencies with only 13% booking this way in 2019. With the significant digital investment, the number of Canadians booking through an in-store travel agency is likely to drop further over the next few years.

Online travel intermediary market value already way surpassed that of offline for the Canadian travel sector in 2019 reaching $14.1bn compared to $9.2bn for in-store. As early as 2013, online travel intermediary market value overtook that of in-store after experiencing a YOY increase of 12%. Covid-19 sees the market value of both offline and online travel intermediaries naturally declining due to the dramatic slump in outbound travel from Canada, forecast to decrease by a staggering -43.9% over 2020. Post-pandemic however, the growth rate for online travel intermediaries is still far higher than that of in-store, forecast to grow at an expansive CAGR of 8.3% for 2021-2024 compared to a CARC of -1.1% for in-store.

While there may always be a minority that will opt for more personal service and seek out a face-to-face conversation with an in-store travel agency when booking a holiday, it is clear that the online travel demand is accelerating at a much faster rate. In order to effectively service future demand, all companies need to be developing conversational platforms, app engagement, and general digital infrastructure to ultimately offer that ‘seamless’ experience for the end-user and appeal to the future tourist.

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